Archive for August, 2008


If you live in the Washington, DC area or will be visiting the area this week I would suggest that you make plans to attend the next Capital Area Flex User Group meeting. We will be meeting at the AboutWeb offices on Wednesday September 3rd. I can give you three reasons why you should attend this meeting;

  1. Meet and network with fellow Flex developers
  2. Free pizza, free soda
  3. Listen to an engaging and informative presentation – given by yours truly

I will be doing a presentation on MATE, a tag-based architectural framework for Flex. You can get more information by view the My Presentations section or going to the CAFUG web site.

I hope to see you there



Mockups For The Masses

Posted: August 19, 2008 in Flex, Misc


Managing a software project can often times bring about confusion as customers attempt to communicate with the software development team about their requirements, especially when it comes to the user interface design. While the software development community may share a general understanding of the various components used in software design (dropdown list box, tab panel, etc.), most users do not. One of the phases used in some software development lifecycles include the creation of application mockups. A mockup is a draft design of a web site or application. By creating a mockup before beginning any software development the customer can correctly determine whether the development effort is on the right path and if the user interface requirements have been correctly communicated.

So, enter Balsamiq Mockups. Balsamiq Studios has created a mockup tool that allows you to create mockups in minutes and without writing a single line of code. The application is so easy to use that you can create the mockup while discussing the software requirements with the customer.

They have released several versions of this tool including;

For Desktop
This version works as an offline desktop application and is fully cross-platform compatible (Mac, Windows, and Linux)

For Confluence
This version works as a plug-in for this popular enterprise collaboration tool.

This version works as a plug-in for this bug and issue tracking system.

For Twiki
This version works as a plug-in for this open source enterprise collaboration platform and knowledge management system. This version has not been released yet but is expected to be ready soon.

There are many reasons I really like this tool. The application interface uses a drawing pad metaphore as the drawing canvas. All of the interface components look hand drawn and can be easily dragged, dropped, and manipulated on the canvas. After creating the mockup it can then be saved in its native format (a standard XML file) or exported as a PNG image. The fact that the mockup is saved into an XML format means that it can be easily shared among many people and even included in your favorite source control system. I am currently working on way to convert the mockup xml into an actual Flex application. Lastly, multiple mockup documents can be opened at the same time in the same way multiple Excel worksheet can be opened and accessed via a tab bar at the bottom of the screen.

For many years I have been using MS VISIO to create application mockups. However I found the software to be a little “overkill” for the task at hand. I also found the it difficult to share the document due to price and its obvious learning curve. The Balsamiq Mockup for Desktop is only $79 (Confluence and JIRA prices are somewhat higher). It has a very low (maybe non-existent) learning curve.

I now regard this application as a valuable addition to my arsenal of software development tools. I believe that you should too.


Your Flex Authority Has Arrived!

Posted: August 18, 2008 in AIR, Flex


If you happen to be one of the lucky few who are able to attend 360Flex, you should have already received a very special gift – the inaugural issue of Flex Authority!

This new technical journal will appeal to Flex and AIR developers of all skill levels. From feature articles to ongoing series, the Flex Authority has everything you need to become an authority of everything Flex and AIR.

However, for the many more who were not able to attend 360Flex I would like to provide for you a brief preview of the kind of quality content you can find in this issue.

The following excerpts are copyright (c) 2008 by respective authors and licensed to House of Fusion for use, and are reprinted with permission.

The Beginner’s Corner: Building Your First AIR Application With Flex
by Shannon Hicks

Welcome to the first issue of Flex Authority. I’ll be writing for The Beginner’s Corner, where those just starting out with Flex will find great walkthroughs on everything Flex and AIR. Today, we’re talking about your first AIR application. Adobe AIR is a runtime that lets us use our existing knowledge of Flex, Flash and/or AJAX to build desktop applications. These applications can then run on either Windows or OS X without a need for multiple code bases. At the time of this edition, AIR for Linux is in public alpha.

You can read more by subscribing to the Flex Authority here.

Working With Yahoo Maps Part I
by Brian Dunphy

Welcome to the first in a series of articles, Working with Yahoo! Maps. In these articles, I will outline key concepts in the creation of Yahoo! Maps applications using Flex. This particular article will walk through getting an API key, configuring Flex Builder to work with the Yahoo! Maps component, setting up the mapping component within a Flex application and finally adding a basic marker to the screen.

You can read more by subscribing to the Flex Authority here.

– and finally, yours truly – 😉

To Be Or Not To Be… Online That Is
by Theo E. Rushin Jr.

Adobe’s newest runtime takes us from the browser to the desktop. Flex, Flash, and even HTML/Ajax developers can take advantage of the power of the operating system to build and deploy applications that run on the system’s desktop. To some of us who started in client-server development, it’s a return trip back to the desktop.

How can my desktop Flex/Flash/HTML/Ajax application still access my server-side and internet-based resources? Fortunately Adobe answered that question by providing the developer with classes that enable him to build in the ability to sense changes in network connectivity and take appropriate action.

In order to properly implement an architecture that would give an application that ability, we need to attack the problem on three fronts:

You can read more by subscribing to the Flex Authority here.

Get your copy of Flex Authority and you’ll see what I mean.


Our CrossDomain.xml File Hero

Posted: August 12, 2008 in Flex


Jeffry Houser released a post on his blog about an error concerning the CrossDomain.xml file.

I would like to thank Jeffry for finding and resolving this tricky little “bug”ger. Now we can all get back to work!

Thanks guy! 🙂

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A peek into the future of Flex (GUMBO)

Posted: August 6, 2008 in Flex


“Developers AND Designers may I introduce you to the next version of FLEX! Heeeeeeerrrrrrreeeee’s …” [spotlight shines on empty stage containing a sign reading – COMING SOON] 🙂

But seriously …

Matt Chotin released a very interesting and very informative presentation about the next version of Flex, code named GUMBO. Check out the online presentation here;

You can also download a PDF version of the presentation here.

Matt also appeared on an episode of the Flex Show and spoke with hosts about the future of Flex. Add this to your iPod!



The same company that brought you Fusion Authority is about to “Do it again!” Those wonderful people at House of Fusion is about to release the first edition of their newest print journal, Flex Authority. You can get more information on their site –

Much like the Fusion Authority, Flex Authority will be a quarterly print technical journal aimed at the Flex Professional. The first issue will be released this month at 360|Flex in San Jose, CA.

Jeffry Houser, the “wizard behind the curtain” at The Flex Show, is the Editor in Chief of Flex Authority. I’ve been a fan of the Flex Show since it’s first podcast and I love listening to it every chance I get. I now look forward to reading each and every issue of Flex Authority.